Research in Progress

Jan-20-2011

In the last couple of months we have been doing research in a three-fold way. First we investigated into the history of Vienna public housing. Our research engaged, on the one hand, with the material itself, in order to lay out the field, to define its preliminary boundaries and then to proceed from a description/analysis (1) of historic models of Vienna public housing and (2) of the current model with its modulation of the “Bauträgerwettbewerbe” towards STARTING to identify the manifold forms and modes of “scarcity” and of “creativity”, that are (as we claim) relational to a specific context and not limited to material, to choice, or typologies or possibilities.

Thus, without actually defining concepts like “scarcity” and “creativity” in the first place we proceeded from the material towards starting to ask critical questions specific to our study, and slowly approaching our main research question (still from the application) – that is:

What kind of innovations can creativity foster within a standardized legally and economically defined system of housing provision?

In doing so we identified significant modulations over time of the Vienna public housing scheme. We frame these modulations as “stand-alone”, quasi-autonomous models or assemblages, starting with the introduction of the invention of the most famous “Red Vienna” with “Gründerzeit” as an often neglected backdrop, the “Reconstruction Years after the 2nd World War”, the “Expansionist Model (New Town Model)” of the 1960ies and 1970ies, “Urban Renewal Model” of the 1980ies, “Revised New Towns” in the 1970ies and 1980ies, up until the introduction of the so called “Bauträgerwettberbe” (Public Housing Development-Competitions) that started in the mid-1990ies.

Important for us is, that these models are not understood as succeeding each other, forming a linear genealogy in which the whole history ultimately unfolds. On the contrary, we suggest to read these models each with its own terms and conditions, that would overlap and exist parallel to each other, reflecting manifold, transdisciplinary international discourse (not only architecture, but also managerial theory, etc.), prevalent political ideas about how to live together, as well as economic and financial situations (ie. Finances via Marshall plan,  annihilation of Brenton-Woods Monetary System, Change into a Post-Fordist Production Process).

Another thread of inquiry has been about scenarios in general – we ask ourselves as how to use scenario techniques for analysis, within design processes and for assessment purposes as the project developes. We were also starting to look into different scenario practices (from AMO’s “Roadmap 2050” to Eyal Weizman’s “Decolonizing Architecture”, but also to forms of scenario practices in other fields than architecture/design with the aim to be able build a toolbox for our own study in the near future.

For our position paper, we decided to focus on the most famous and most historic model – namely RED VIENNA. With this one model we aim to give an understanding of what we were doing and how we have been approaching the research-subject so far: How we have been describing each model so far, what kind of materials we were using (and finding) and what kind of –very preliminary– outcome such an approach can foster.